When the redbuds are in bloom and the skies are blue, loft-dwellers and suburbanites alike feel the pull of spring. Instead of heading over to the big box store to pick up a flat of petunias, check out Austin’s local nurseries. Not only does buying from local entrepreneurs support fellow Austinites but in the plant and garden business, local advice is best. Austin has challenging conditions to garden in and the local nurseries can help you find plants best suited for our climate.
Austin is fortunate to have many and varied local nurseries. Most of them are interesting destinations in themselves with quite distinct personalities. Check them out!
Barton Springs Nursery. Out in West Lake on Bee Caves Rd, Barton Springs Nursery is my prime source for native plants. They have a very helpful, knowledgeable staff and extensive shaded grounds. They also carry an assortment of planters, garden decorations, bird baths and fountains.
Big Red Sun. (Annoying Flash site but great real-world site.) On East 1st Street, Big Red Sun has a modern, urban feel. It carries very architectural plants (lots of succulents and cacti) and unusual planters. Their gift shop also sells apparel and housewares. A great place for integrating your indoor/outdoor lifestyles–even if all you have in terms of outdoors is a balcony. If you have no design sense, they can help you make something striking.
Floribunda. Formerly located on South Lamar, Floribunda has just lost its lease as South Lamar is being transformed to “SoLa”. However, their garden design business is still going strong and they do some of the most eye-popping designs in Austin. The owners hope to find a new location and reopen the nursery this fall.
Gardens. Near the Mo-Pac off the 38th St exit, Gardens is Austin’s high-end nursery and landscape designers. The plants are sometimes exotic and the gift shop always is. You’ll find plants at Gardens you won’t find elswhere. They are THE nursery to go to if you are looking for heirloom tomatoes and eggplants. They also carry unusual seeds that you can typically get only through mail-order, as well as a varied supply of bulbs suited for the south.
The Great Outdoors. On South Congress near St. Ed’s, the Great Outdoors is a green refuge in the middle of the city. It has magnificent live oaks, a huge water feature, and a coffee shop–oh yeah, and lots and lots of plants. The gift shop is filled with playful garden accessories.
It’s About Thyme. If you live in far south Austin, or north Buda, here’s an alternative to the Lowe’s and Home Depots that dot every corner. Located on far south Manchaca in what was once a ranch, the grounds of It’s About Thyme flow seamlessly into the fields beyond. They have all the typical nursery fare but what distinguishes them is the number of greenhouses with a varied assortment of ferns and palms.
John Dromgoole’s The Natural Gardener. Located in southwest Austin, the Natural Gardener has extensive grounds with many different show gardens to provide inspiration of what you can do with native and xeriscapic plants. Not only is this a great source of ideas and information and native plants, it is the place to go to get a wide variety of composts and mulches, either by the bag or the pickup load. Truly an Austin gardening institution.
Shoal Creek Nursery. Off the Mo-Pac on Hancock, Shoal Creek Nursery has a good selection of roses, shrubs and trees–their focus is the suburban gardener. Importantly, Shoal Creek Nursery sells only plants raised by regional growers, which means they will be more adapted to our harsh climate than plants shipped in by out-of-state growers like Monrovia.
Sledd Nursery. Located in Clarksville, this small nursery has been in Austin for almost three decades. If you like azaleas, this is the place to go. Sledd Nursery is my shrub and tree source but that’s not all they carry. They pack an amazing variety of annuals, veggies, bulbs, and roses into a very small space.
Where do you get your plant fix, and why?